Alignment: Setting Our Stone
In antiquities, the first stone laid when construction began was the cornerstone which was placed just where it sounds: The corner. It served a critical purpose in setting the alignment for the foundation and that of the entire building. It joined two walls together, and was a critical element of support. Without it, there was no direction.
Today we have symbolic cornerstones that are etched with words commemorating the date construction took place, but it's generally a lot of words and not located at the place the cornerstone is set; The corner. Without being at the corner, it's not a critical support to the building, and more of a decorative piece to adorn the facade. There's symbolism that pours thick over that concept and where we are today as a society.
In photography we find this same principle with compositions. The alignment of your camera on your tripod frames your entire shot. How you compose that image will be the difference between something that you could proudly hang in a gallery, or something that's discarded as soon as you see it on the screen. There's principles and rules that great artists before us have set that speaks to the visual beauty in the way in which we mentally receive the relationship between shapes, distances and lines. Set your composition thoughtfully. Set it intentionally. Without composition, you have a snapshot, not a masterpiece.
I love sleep. I mean I ardently love the feeling of my pillow, heaps of blankets and my body needs a solid 9 - 10 hours a night. This really doesn't work as a landscape photographer, as I'm sure you can imagine. So when I'm woken at nearly 3:30 a.m., I know I'm being called to listen, to write, or both. This morning, it's both.
It's January and we have a storm moving through our area. Before I started writing, I listened. I lay awake thinking and whispering to this God I love so much, when thunder crashes over my house. I stop speaking. I still. That same God that my heart whispers to, He controls with His little finger each element that makes up that great big sound above my head. It's the wonder of nature. It's the reason why I photograph landscapes: The reality of who God truly is, meets me at this place where the fear and awe of His power takes my hand and leads me to His gentle whispers, conversation and His smile. This is the pursuit I want to go on with you, and what we're after.
2017 rolled in so quickly, it left me shaking my head. We can dream a lot of dreams, talk, plan and strategize, but nothing will get done until the rubber meets the road, and the ink hits the page. Here we are.
In starting this series about hearing the voice of God, I need to lay some groundwork. You see, as unpopular as framework might be to society today, every structure and every building has to have a foundation and alignment. A Cornerstone. Here's where mine begins and what the crux of this entire month long journey stands on: It all begins and ends with Jesus.
The Bible calls Jesus the Cornerstone. I grew up in a Baptist church and I'm so thankful for that because it taught me sound principles in the faith. One of those is that Jesus is the risen Son of God, who through His love and grace towards us, is our only access to heaven. It's a simple, but mind bending concept.
Again, I have extended roots in the church. However what I'm speaking about here moves offering plates aside, shifts past the old lady with the pearl earrings, bursts out of the building walls, way past the crowds, and finds you somewhere alone in the wilderness. In nature. Alone with Him.
Here's what not to expect from this journey with me and any post you might read here: Religion.
My faith journey towards hearing His voice didn't begin in church walls. Religion only goes so far. The problem is that you store a lot of knowledge into your head, but unless it swirls around you, consumes your heart, and changes the way it beats, it's worthless.
The short reality of it is this: When life gets tough, when hard decisions need made, a goodbye lingers on your lips, or you dance with choices that could negatively affect your life and the lives around you, religion will stop at the doorframe, push you into a room of choices all by yourself while calling instructions from the door. It echoes, but it doesn't hold your hand. It didn't hold my hand.
I met Jesus in the church walls and we shook hands. But it was in nature, in desperation, and in one very difficult step of faith that caused me to love Him. During this very difficult place in my life filled with depression, anger and resentment, I said goodbye to a lifestyle of wealth because His voice was calling me to take the step past religion, faith. Faith begins with action.
Before we move further or take the next curve of our trail on this journey together, I hope you'll take an honest heart assessment. Maybe your journey is like mine and you have a lot of religious knowledge from a hymn book when you were 5, or maybe you grew up in a place where the only time you saw hints of your Creator was in the sound of rustling leaves, waves crashing and limbs swaying. Regardless, I hope you'll thoughtfully lift up the idea of a relationship with Jesus. Without it, very little of what we continue to talk about will apply. You don't get married without whispering "yes", and you don't land that life changing position in your career without showing up. The same is true with your faith journey. Say yes, show up. Life will never be the same. I promise.
*image credit: my sweet and amazing husband.